Michigan Live: Opinion: Why do Some Republicans Revile Common Core? The Answer: Politics
July 18, 2013
By this time, most people in Michigan and across the country are probably familiar with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), the new academic standards adopted by 45 states. In Michigan, where we have already adopted CCSS, many may have also heard about the legislature’s recent decision to block funding for implementation.
With Tuesday’s hearing in the House of Representatives on the future of the Common Core, it’s time we set the record straight on why some Republicans in Michigan have decided to obstruct it. Because what is becoming increasingly clear is that national right-wing extremist groups have hijacked the CCSS debate and politicized the process. And what’s more, they are doing it under the banner of state’s rights and local control.
Until recently, debate over the Common Core State Standards centered on whether the standards were necessary. In high-performing states like Massachusetts, high student performance made some doubt that the standards were needed at all. Michigan, however, is not one of those states.
In a July 2013 report, the Education Trust-Midwest found Michigan’s students were being outperformed by much of the country. Between 2003 and 2011, the average fourth grader in the U.S. improved his or her score by about four points on a national benchmark exam. High-fliers like Maryland saw their students’ scores go up by about twelve points. In Michigan, students grew a, for all intents and purposes negligible, one-tenth of a point. While other states are zooming ahead, Michigan is stuck in neutral. It’s clear our schools need stronger standards than what they are currently using.
Not only is there a need for stronger standards, Common Core has a great deal of support in Michigan. Groups from Business Leaders for Michigan, the Michigan PTA, Education Trust – Midwest, the Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators and the Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals all support the standards. Common Core is also supported by many of the state’s teachers, administrators, school boards and parent groups.
Many have recognized the promise the standards hold for Michigan’s students. Why have some Republicans turned on a program supported by other state Republicans, particularly one with so much promise for Michigan students?
The answer: politics.
Although educators and researchers agree the Common Core represent an improvement over Michigan’s current standards, Tea Party Republicans in Michigan are following the directions of the national Tea Party movement, which has come out strongly against the Common Core using fear tactics and misinformation. The ray of hope here is that some Republicans are starting to take notice. Representative Tim Kelly, following Tuesday’s hearing, said it’s “unfortunate when you have some members that aren’t listening to the answers that are being provided. You may not like the answer, but that doesn’t mean you keep repeating the question.”
Why are some legislators having a hard time letting facts drive their opinions, rather than vice versa? One reason is that they’ve been told Common Core is the first sign of an imminent apocalypse. Glenn Beck argues that the Common Core State Standards are the first step on the path toward a one-world government. Michelle Malkin, a Fox commentator and Tea Party favorite, claimed the standards are “about top-down control engineered through government-administered tests and left-wing textbook monopolies.”
Tom McMillin, the representative leading the charge against Common Core in Michigan, hasn’t hesitated to adopt Glenn Beck’s and Michelle Malkin’s marching orders. He argued joining Common Core meant the federal government would “dictate what is taught in every classroom in Michigan.” Never mind that the federal government did not create the standards and is barred by federal law from interfering in curricula decisions that are and should be determined by states and school districts.
The bill stripping Common Core funding has already thrown implementation of the new standards into turmoil. Fortunately, more people are starting to insist the Tea Party stops playing politics with education.
Those who are catering and kowtowing to the fringe on Common Core are doing our children, and economic system, a great disservice. While Michigan strives to be internationally competitive, national Tea Partiers and their state legislative minions are keeping us from measuring up to anyone but the bottom half of U.S. states. Because opportunities like Common Core come along only once every couple of decades, they may be doing both our kids and our economy irreparable harm.
The choice for Michigan is clear: will the legislature continue to pander to national Tea Party figures or will they get serious about improving Michigan’s schools?
Read the full post here.
For more than 35 years, Harrison Blackmond has dedicated his life towards helping children achieve the education they deserve. Harrison has served a multitude of roles within Michigan’s education system, including Chair of the Marygrove College Board of Trustees, President of the Business/Education Training Alliance, Vice Chairman and member of the Executive Committee of the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce, and President of the Detroit Black Alliance for Education Options. Read more about Harrison here.
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